Tag: fun science

Music cuts across cultures: Certain aspects of our reactions to music universal

Music cuts across cultures: Certain aspects of our reactions to music universal

Machprinciple
http://machprinciple.com/music-cuts-across-cultures-certain-aspects-of-our-reactions-to-music-universal/

Musical-Wallpapers[1]

Whether you’re a Pygmy in the Congolese rainforest or a big-city hipster, certain aspects of music will touch you in the same ways—but others very differently, a study suggests.

“People have been trying to figure out for quite a while whether the way that we react to music is based on the culture that we come from or on some universal features of the music itself,” said co-researcher Stephen McAdams of McGill University in Montreal. “Now we know that it is actually a bit of both.”

The researchers traveled deep into the rainforest to play music to a very isolated people, the Mbenzélé Pygmies, who live without radio, television or electricity. They then compared how the Mbenzélé responded both to their own and to unfamiliar Western music, with how Canadians in downtown Montreal responded to the same pieces.

They found that the two groups were similar in their responses to how exciting or calming they found the music to be—but differed regarding whether specific pieces made them feel good or bad. The Pygmies tended to rate everything, even “scary” music, as making them happy, according to the study, published in the research journal Frontiers in Psychology.

The investigators played 19 short musical extracts (11 western and 8 Pygmy) of between about 30 and 90 seconds to 40 Pygmies and an equal number of Canadians. Because all the Mbenzélé Pygmies sing regularly for ceremonial purposes, the Canadians recruited for the study were all either amateur or professional musicians.

The Western music was designed to induce a range of emotions from calm to excited, and from happy to anxious or sad, and included both orchestral music and excerpts from three popular films (Psycho, Star Wars, and Schindler’s List).

The Pygmy pieces were all polyphonic (multiple-voiced) vocal pieces that are fairly upbeat and tend to be performed in ceremonial contexts to calm anger, or express comfort after a death, for example, or to bid good fortune before a hunting expedition leaves the village, or even to pacify a crying child.

The researchers used emoticons with smiling or frowning faces at each end of a continuum to get people to identify whether the music made them feel good or bad. They also asked participants to rate whether the music made them feel calm (close-eyed emoticon) or excited (open-eyed face). As participants listened, various measurements were also taken such as heart rate, rate of respiration, and amount of sweat on the palms.

“Our major discovery is that listeners from very different groups both responded to how exciting or calming they felt the music to be in similar ways,” said Hauke Egermann of the Technische Universität in Berlin, who did part of the research while at McGill University in Montreal. “This is probably due to certain low-level aspects of music such as tempo (or beat), pitch (how high or low the music is on the scale) and timbre (tone color or quality), but this will need further research.”

The main difference between Pygmy and Canadian listeners, the researchers said, was that the Canadians described themselves as feeling a much wider range of emotions as they listened to the Western music than the Pygmies felt when listening to either their own or Western music. This is probably attributable to the varying roles that music plays in each culture.

“Negative emotions are felt to disturb the harmony of the forest in Pygmy culture and are therefore dangerous,” said Nathalie Fernando of the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Music, who has been collecting and documenting Mbenzélé music-making for 10 years. “If a baby is crying, the Mbenzélé will sing a happy song. If the men are scared of going hunting, they will sing a happy song—in general music is used in this culture to evacuate all negative emotions, so it is not really surprising that the Mbenzélé feel that all the music they hear makes them feel good.”

source: http://www.world-science.net/

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People in bad mood search facebook friends who are doing worse off : scientific study

People in bad mood search facebook friends who are doing worse off : scientific study

Machprinciple
http://machprinciple.com/people-in-bad-mood-search-facebook-friends-who-are-doing-worse-off-scientific-study/

facebook-smartphone[1]

When people are in a bad mood, they’re more likely to actively search social networking sites like Facebook to find friends who are doing even worse than they are, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that, in general, people use social media to connect with people who are posting positive and success-oriented updates.

“But when people are in a negative mood, they start to show more interest in the less attractive, less successful people on their social media sites,” said Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, co-author of the study and professor of communication at Ohio State University.

The study was published online in the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is to appear in the December 2014 print edition.

“Generally, most of us look for the positive on social media sites. But if you’re feeling vulnerable, you’ll look for people on Facebook who are having a bad day or who aren’t as good at presenting themselves positively, just to make yourself feel better,” said Benjamin Johnson, co-author of the study, a former doctoral student at Ohio State and now at VU University Amsterdam.

The study involved 168 college students. Researchers first put participants in a good or bad mood by having them take a test on facial emotion recognition. Regardless of their answers, the students were randomly told their performance was “terrible” (to put them in a bad mood) or “excellent” (to put them in a good mood).

Afterward, all participants were asked to review what they were told was a new social networking site called SocialLink. The overview page presented preview profiles of eight people, which the students could click on to read more.

The key to the study was that the eight profiles were designed to make the people profiled appear attractive and successful – or unattractive or unsuccessful.

Each profiled person was ranked on a scale of 0 to 5 on both career success (number of dollar signs next to their profile) and attractiveness, or “hotness” (number of hearts).

Each profile had either half of a dollar sign (low career success) or 4 1/2 dollar signs (high career success). They had either one-half heart (low attractiveness) or 4 1/2 hearts (high attractiveness).

The profile images were blurred so that participants could not see what they actually looked like.

When participants clicked on the profiles, they found that all the status updates were much the same. They were all relatively mundane and didn’t discuss any career or academic success, physical appearance or romantic relationships.

“So the only real difference between the profiles was the ratings of career success and attractiveness signified by the dollar signs and hearts,” Johnson said.

Overall, the researchers found that people tended to spend more time on the profiles of people who were rated as successful and attractive.

But participants who had been put in a negative mood spent significantly more time than others browsing the profiles of people who had been rated as unsuccessful and unattractive.

“If you need a self-esteem boost, you’re going to look at people worse off than you,” Knobloch-Westerwick said. “You’re probably not going to be looking at the people who just got a great new job or just got married.

“One of the great appeals of social network sites is that they allow people to manage their moods by choosing who they want to compare themselves to.”

Source :  www.world-science.net

Blackmailing is essential for marriage to evolve

Blackmailing is essential for marriage to evolve

Machprinciple
http://machprinciple.com/blackmailing-is-essential-for-marriage-to-evolve/

marriage.p[1]

The institution of marriage might not have successfully taken root unless blackmail was common in ancient human societies, a provocative new study claims.

A tradition publicly and proudly displayed in almost every community, marriage is sometimes symbolized by white trappings meant to convey that it is something pure. But it may have largely been kept that way thanks to a dark enforcement mechanism lurking quite out of public view—and to the fear of it, according to the researchers, who developed mathematical formulas and computer simulations in support of their theory.

The study, which attempts to describe marital relationships with mathematics as it might apply to a strategy game, is published in the Nov. 29 online issue of the research journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.

The researchers with the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Pune, India and North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. said they set out to explore the “conundrum” of why males and females sacrifice their direct self-interest to get involved in marriage.

Both males and females can boost their individual reproductive success through promiscuity. Yet the marriage institution has succeeded in at least limiting unapproved relationships, while confining many of those that remain to the shadows of secrecy.

While faithfully committed marriage is a good strategy for raising children, that doesn’t explain how it has remained stable over time, added the researchers, Milind Watve of the Indian Institute and colleagues. They estimate that monogamous relationships have been a feature of human mating for millions of years. As evidence they point out that human males and females have always been fairly similar in size, a factor associated with lack of promiscuity across many species.

Part of the enforcement mechanism that supports marriage is “mate guarding,” they noted—the man and woman directly monitor each other and retaliate for cheating. A range of animals also practice mate guarding. But the math suggests mate guarding isn’t enough to enforce stable monogamy, Watve and colleagues claim, especially since this takes a substantial investment of energy from both parties.

Instead, they argue that at least among humans, “social policing” is also necessary. In plain English, that’s the gossip factor. Gossip helps expose cheaters, who in many societies suffer ensuing punishments ranging from ostracism to death. Gossip may also be more efficient than mate guarding because it’s easier: in place of sustained and focused monitoring of a person, occasional, incidental observations may suffice.

But this begs the question, the researchers note, of why people gossip, given that this chatter also costs some time and effort from everyone involved. A glib answer might be that gossip is fun, but not everyone finds it so, and our species as a whole might conceivably have evolved to find gossip unbearable rather than enjoyable.

The cold reality is that the math works out only if every action has a payoff or potential payoff, Watve and colleagues argue. In the case of gossip, they contend, that payoff could have come in the form of blackmailing opportunities. An effective gossiper must also be a busybody, and a busybody gets extra access to potentially damaging secrets that may occasionally serve to extract a handsome payoff from a hapless cuckold.

The mathematical model developed by Watve and colleagues “indicates that obligate monogamy is made possible by blackmailing,” they wrote.

“We therefore argue that during the evolution of mating systems, which is considered as a main driving force for the evolution of [the] human social system, monogamy was maintained by social policing with opportunistic blackmailing,” they added.

The real police, of course, don’t like blackmailers much, something all players must take into account. But formal policing is a very recent phenomenon with little relevance to human evolution as it has played out over an estimated six million years. That’s the time since biologists say the lineages leading to modern humans and their closest living relatives, the chimps, became separate.

“It can be speculated that after the advent of a formal judiciary system, the private justice of blackmailing could have been perceived as a threat to the formal judiciary system and therefore considered bad and illegal,” Watve and colleagues wrote. “However, formal police and judiciary systems could never replace social policing through gossiping and opportunistic blackmailing both of which are prevalent in modern societies too.”

One thing the model doesn’t explain is how monogamy has arisen some animal species, the researchers admit. It could be that among in non-humans matings outside the monogamous relationship are more strongly limited by shortage of opportunities, they speculated, but this remains to be seen.

Source : www.world-science.net/

Astronomers find ‘cousin’ planets around twin stars

Astronomers find ‘cousin’ planets around twin stars

Machprinciple
http://machprinciple.com/astronomers-find-cousin-planets-around-twin-stars/

An artist?s impression shows the planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth

Astronomers say they have found two new planets, each orbiting one star—while the stars orbit each other. The researchers are calling the Jupiter-sized planets, tied in a strange, not-quite-sister relationship, “cousin planets.”

Most known planets outside our solar system orbit stars that drift alone, like our Sun.

Yet many stars are paired up in “binary” systems, twin stars formed from the same gas cloud, and which circle each other. Occasionally astronomers identify a planet that orbits an entire binary-star system, but researchers say this is the first case where each binary star seems to have its own separately orbiting world.

The findings, around stars known as WASP-94A and WASP-94B, were made by a team of British, Swiss and Belgian astronomers. The British WASP-South survey, operated by Keele University in the U.K., found tiny dips in the light of the first star, suggesting that a Jupiter-like planet was passing in front of it. Swiss astronomers then found evidence for planets around both stars.

“We observed the other star by accident, and then found a planet around that one also!” said Marion Neveu-VanMalle of Geneva Observatory, who wrote a paper on the findings. The report is online here.

The planets are of a type known as “Hot Jupiters,” which orbit so close to their suns that their “years” last only a few days. They are rare, the astronomers said, so it would be unlikely to find two such planets in the same star system by chance. Perhaps, they speculate, WASP-94 has just the right conditions for producing Hot Jupiters. If so, it could be an important system for studying their development.

The existence of huge, Jupiter-size planets so near to their stars is a long-standing puzzle, since it is believed they can’t form near to the star, where it is far too hot. They must form much further out, where it is cool, then move closer, perhaps as a result of an interaction with another planet or star. The idea is that finding Hot Jupiters in two stars of a binary pair might allow us to study the processes that move the planets inward.

Men want status from romantic relationships, study found

Men want status from romantic relationships, study found

Machprinciple
http://machprinciple.com/men-want-status-from-romantic-relationships-study-found/

The_Gaze[1]

Men display more interest than women in leaning on romantic relationships as a source of social status, a newly published set of studies suggests.

Tracy Kwang, a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues conducted surveys to determine whether there are differences in the ways men and women derive self-worth from relationships.

“Men and women alike indicated that men are less reliant on relationships as a source of self-worth than are women,” the researchers wrote, reporting their findings May 8 in the early online issue of the journal Psychological Science.

But “men reported basing their self-esteem on their own relationship status (whether or not they were in a relationship) more than did women, and this link was statistically mediated by the perceived importance of relationships as a source of social standing,” they added.

“When relationship status was threatened, men displayed increased social-standing concerns, whereas women displayed increased interdepend concerns,” they went on. “Together, these findings demonstrate that both men and women rely on relationships for self-worth, but that they derive self-esteem from relationships in different ways.”

The journal is a publication of the Washington, D.C.-based Association for Psychological Science.

Source :  www.world-science.net

Why bubbles in dark beer sink rather than rise?

Why bubbles in dark beer sink rather than rise?

Machprinciple
http://machprinciple.com/why-bubbles-in-dark-beer-sink-rather-than-rise/

thingsthatfizz-wordpress-com[1]

One riddle of human existence has been a cold case for years—but we can finally put this one away, according to three scientists. They claim to have solved the puzzle of why bubbles in dark beer sink rather than rise, as common sense, and a cursory grasp of physics, suggest they should.

Their answer in a nutshell: paradoxically, bubbles in dark beer fall because they’re trying to go up. But in trying, they create currents that enable some of them rise only at the expense of other, more clearly visible ones, which instead drop. The shape of the glass, meanwhile, plays a key role, said the investigators, who studied perhaps the best-known brand of stout, Guinness.

“The sinking bubbles of Guinness and other stout beers have intrigued beer drinking physicists and their students for some time,” wrote Eugene Benilov, Cathal Cummins and William Lee of the University of Limerick in Ireland, reporting their findings.

“We complete the explanation” of the phenomenon, they wrote, though as they acknowledged, they did not begin the explanation.

Four years ago, Youxue Zhang and Zhengjiu Xu of the University of Michigan declared that the much smaller bubble sizes characteristic of dark beers is a key clue in the mystery. Bubbles want to go up because, being little balls of gas, they’re lighter than the surrounding liquid. But the upward drive is weaker if the bubble is smaller. If the liquid happens to be flowing the opposite way, all it takes is for the liquid speed to exceed the bubble speed—and the bubble will be forced to go with the flow.

“Because of their small size, the bubbles in Guinness beer rise slowly and hence can be entrained by downward flow if the downward flow velocity exceeds the small velocity of rising bubbles,” Zhang and Xu wrote, reporting their work in the Feb. 2008 issue of the journal Elements.

But why would there be a downward flow? Benilov and colleagues believe they have unraveled that one.

When a fizzy drink is poured, many bubbles form when the liquid hits the bottom of the glass. If we assume for simplicity’s sake that they form uniformly all over the bottom, then they would also rise in a uniform column throughout the drink, Benilov and colleagues explain in their paper, posted on arXiv.org, an online physics research database.

But one factor, primarily, disrupts this uniformity, they say: they shape of the glass. The standard pint glass typically used for Guinness in bars is—like many glasses—narrow at the bottom, wider near the top. Since bubbles from the bottom rise approximately straight upward, then as the glass widens, the area near the walls finds itself with a shortage of bubbles compared to the middle of the glass.

This thicker concentration of bubbles in the central axis of the glass has great consequences for the outlying bubbles near the edges, they claim: these fringe elements are pushed downward in order to allow their more mainstream brethren to reach the top.

The key to understanding why this happens is that “whichever way the bubbles move, they exert a drag force on the surrounding liquid”—they carry the liquid with them to some degree, they explained. But of course, the whole sopping mass of beer can’t simply lift itself out of the glass just thanks to a lift offered by its bubbles. So if some bubbles do manage to push the liquid upward in their little area of the receptacle, that liquid must fall back down in another area.

Thus a current arises, Benilov and colleagues argue: beer in the central column goes up, because there are more bubbles there. Beer near the sides goes down, because there are fewer bubbles there. The little, outlying orbs suffer the consequences as their upward struggle is more than counterbalanced by the downward speed of the liquid. These bubbles, being near the edge, are the ones we see most clearly, especially in a freshly poured glass.

This same logic dictates that if the glass is narrower at the top than the bottom, the bubbles near the edges should flow upward instead of downward, Benilov and colleagues said—which is exactly what happens. They designed an “anti -pint” glass that had the form of a standard pint glass turned upside-down. Lo and behold, the bubbles near the edge rose.

The beer experiments are more than fun and games, Benilov and colleagues said; there are industrial uses to understanding how bubbles behave. Zhang and Zu wrote in their 2008 paper that the “fizzics” of bubbles, as they dubbed it, is also relevant to understanding explosive volcano eruptions—as well as lake eruptions such as a 1986 disaster at Lake Nyos Cameroon. In that tragedy, 1,700 people suffocated after more than a million tons of carbon dioxide burst out of the lake.

Source :  www.world-science.net

Playing up “manly” side may help women enter male-dominated fields

Playing up “manly” side may help women enter male-dominated fields

Machprinciple
http://machprinciple.com/playing-up-manly-side-may-help-women-enter-male-dominated-fields/

Women boss at work

Women applying for a job in male-dominated fields should consider playing up their masculine qualities, indicates new research by Michigan State University scholars.

In a laboratory experiment, women who described themselves using “masculine”-like traits (assertive, independent, achievement oriented) were evaluated as more fitting for the job than those who emphasized female-like traits (warmth, supportiveness, nurturing).

“We found that ‘manning up’ seemed to be an effective strategy, because it was seen as necessary for the job,” said Ann Marie Ryan, co-author and psychologist. The project is part of a series of studies on bias in hiring.

The findings refute the idea that women who emphasize counter-stereotypical traits might face a backlash for not conforming to expected gender roles, the researchers added. When hiring for a leadership position in a male-dominated field such as engineering, Ryan said, decision makers appear to be looking for take-charge candidates regardless of gender. Science is another field where men outnumber women.

The study appears online in the research journal Psychology of Women Quarterly.

Ryan is working with current and former doctoral students on a raft of research looking at the discrimination that certain groups face in the job hunt – and, importantly, what people might do to counter it.

Because there’s ample evidence hiring discrimination exists for women, minorities, older workers and others, Ryan said it’s time to start focusing on why discrimination occurs – and what a job seeker might do to combat it. She is conducting related research on groups ranging from ethnic minorities to military veterans to people with disabilities.

Another of her studies, to appear in the Journal of Managerial Psychology, surveyed unemployed job seekers of all ages under the theory that older people perceive more discrimination and make an effort to downplay their age during interviews. The theory proved correct, Ryan and colleagues said, but surprisingly younger workers also avoided discussing their age, apparently so they wouldn’t be seen as too inexperienced.

Ultimately, Ryan said, it’s not job seekers’ responsibility to ensure their own equal treatment. But she hopes to help candidates find better outcomes in a culture plagued by “pervasive and persistent” discrimination. Often, that discrimination starts during the résumé-screening process, before a candidate even makes it to the job interview.

“Companies and recruiters should make sure they are not exhibiting discriminatory screening practices,” Ryan said. “There’s a lot of advice out there for applicants to help combat this type of bias, but our research is aimed at figuring out what kind of advice is beneficial and what kind of advice may harm you.”

Source : www.world-science.net

NASA sizing up “weird” asteroid candidates for capture

NASA sizing up “weird” asteroid candidates for capture

Machprinciple
http://machprinciple.com/nasa-sizing-up-weird-asteroid-candidates-for-capture/

pia18456-full_0[1]

 

Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have measured the sizes of two asteroid “candidates” for NASA’s proposed mission to capture a small asteroid, or boulder from an asteroid.

The idea is to put it in orbit around the moon.

Both candidate asteroids turned out to be “to be really weird—not at all like the one solid rock that we expected. We’re scratching our heads,” said David Trilling of Northern Arizona University, who leads the team of astronomers in the The Asteroid Redirect Mission.

Instead, the asteroids consist of about two-thirds empty space, the measurements show.

The latest candidate asteroid measured, called 2011 MD, was measured at roughly 20 feet (6 meters) wide. Spitzer’s infrared-light vision was key to sizing up the object. “From its perch up in space, Spitzer can use its heat-sensitive infrared vision to spy asteroids and get better estimates of their sizes,” said Michael Mommert of Northern Arizona University, lead author of the latest study, appearing June 19 in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Valid candidates are asteroids with the right size, weight and spin rate to be feasibly captured by a robotic spacecraft. Two other “valid” candidates have been identified so far. Combined infrared and visible-light observations of the new candidate led to a measurement of its weight and density, or compactness. Astronomers think it might be a collection of loosely bound rocks, like a fleet of flying boulders, or a solid rock with surrounding fine debris.

Scientists found a similar type of composition for asteroid 2009 BD, another candidate considered valid. Trilling and colleagues used Spitzer to help pin down the size of that asteroid to roughly 10 to 13 feet (3 or 4 meters).

The team said the small asteroids probably formed as a result of collisions between larger asteroids, but they don’t understand how their unusual structures could have arisen. They plan to use Spitzer to study more of the tiny asteroids, both as possible targets for asteroid space missions, and for a better understanding of the many asteroid denizens making up our solar system.

Source : world-science.net

Scientists develop new method for finding aliens

Scientists develop new method for finding aliens

Machprinciple
http://machprinciple.com/scientists-develop-new-method-for-finding-aliens/

The+Greys[1]

Scientists say they have de­vel­oped a pow­er­ful new mod­el to de­tect life on plan­ets out­side of our so­lar sys­tem, more ac­cu­rately than ev­er be­fore.

The new mod­el fo­cus­es on meth­ane, the sim­plest or­gan­ic mol­e­cule, widely ac­knowl­edged to be a sign of po­ten­tial life.

Re­search­ers from Uni­vers­ity Col­lege Lon­don in the U.K. and the Uni­vers­ity of New South Wales in Aus­tral­ia de­vel­oped a new meth­od to de­tect the mol­e­cule at tem­per­a­tures above that of Earth, up to 1220 de­grees Cel­si­us, some­thing not pos­si­ble be­fore.

To find out what re­mote plan­ets or­bit­ing oth­er stars are made of, as­tro­no­mers an­a­lyze the way in which their at­mo­spheres ab­sorb star­light of dif­fer­ent col­ors. They then com­pare that to a mod­el, or “spec­trum,” to iden­ti­fy dif­fer­ent mol­e­cules.

“Cur­rent mod­els of meth­ane are in­com­plete, lead­ing to a sev­ere un­der­es­tima­t­ion of meth­ane lev­els on plan­ets,” said Jon­a­than Ten­ny­son, a phys­i­cist at Uni­vers­ity Col­lege Lon­don. “We an­ti­cipate our new mod­el will have a big im­pact on the fu­ture study of plan­ets and ‘cool’ stars ex­ter­nal to our so­lar sys­tem, po­ten­tially help­ing sci­en­tists iden­ti­fy signs of ex­tra­ter­res­tri­al life.”

“The com­pre­hen­sive spec­trum we have cre­at­ed has only been pos­si­ble with the as­ton­ish­ing pow­er of mod­ern su­per­com­put­ers which are needed for the bil­lions of lines re­quired for the mod­eling,” added the stu­dy’s lead au­thor, Sergei Yurchenko, al­so of the uni­vers­ity.

“We lim­it­ed the tem­per­a­ture thresh­old,” he added, “to fit the ca­pa­city avail­a­ble, so more re­search could be done to ex­pand the mod­el to high­er tem­per­a­tures still. Our cal­cula­t­ions re­quired about three mil­lion CPU (cen­tral pro­cess­ing un­it) hours alone,” he said.

“We are thrilled to have used this tech­nol­o­gy to sig­nif­i­cantly ad­vance be­yond pre­vi­ous mod­els avail­a­ble for re­search­ers stu­dying po­ten­tial life on as­tro­nom­i­cal ob­jects, and we are ea­ger to see what our new spec­trum helps them dis­cov­er.”

The mod­el has been tested and ver­i­fied by re­pro­duc­ing the way meth­ane in failed stars, called brown dwarfs, ab­sorbs light, the re­search­ers added. The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

vlcsnap-2012-08-18-14h29m23s241[1]

Jupiter’s “Red Spot” shrinking dramatically

Jupiter’s “Red Spot” shrinking dramatically

Machprinciple
http://machprinciple.com/jupiters-red-spot-shrinking-dramatically/

Jupiter-GRS-Hubble-shrink-panel-580x399[1]

Ju­pi­ter’s trade­mark Great Red Spot—a swirling storm fea­ture larg­er than Earth—has shrunk to its small­est size ev­er meas­ured, as­tro­no­mers re­port.

The rea­sons for the shrink­age is un­known, but it’s ac­cel­er­at­ing, as­tro­no­mers said. If it con­tin­ues at re­cently meas­ured rates, the fa­mous blotch will be gone by about 2030.

If Earth’s sur­face were spread out like an or­ange peel, about one and a half of those would fit with­in the Red Spot to­day. But in 1979, that num­ber was over three­—and back in Vic­to­ri­an days, it was es­ti­mat­ed around 10.

Re­cent NASA Hub­ble Space Tel­e­scope ob­serva­t­ions show the plan­et­ary pim­ple is about 10,250 miles (16,500 km) wide, said Amy Si­mon of NASA’s God­dard Space Flight Cen­ter in Green­belt, Md.

Ob­serva­t­ions as far back as the late 1800s gauged the Red Spot to be as big as 25,500 miles (41,000 km) on its long end. And NASA’s Voy­ag­er 1 and Voy­ag­er 2 fly­bys of Ju­pi­ter in 1979 meas­ured the storm as 14,500 miles (23,300 km) across.

Be­gin­ning in 2012, am­a­teur ob­serva­t­ions re­vealed a no­tice­a­ble ac­celera­t­ion in the shrink­age—to 580 miles (930 km) per year—chang­ing its shape from an oval to a cir­cle, as­tro­no­mers said.

“It is ap­par­ent that very small ed­dies are feed­ing in­to the stor­m” on the gas-gi­ant plan­et, said Si­mon. “These may be re­spon­si­ble for the ac­cel­er­ated change” by alter­ing the storm’s in­ter­nal dy­nam­ics and en­er­gy. Her team plans to study the ed­dies’ mo­tions and the in­ter­nal storm dy­nam­ics to de­ter­mine wheth­er the ed­dies can feed or sap mo­men­tum en­ter­ing the up­welling vor­tex, caus­ing the shrink­age.

Source : http://www.world-science.net/